OK how about we start this with a question; if you had a choice between a young player from the Russian KHL or the Finnish Liiga which one do you want? If it is me then I will go with the KHL because it is seen as a better pro league.
But you would not know this by the way Ranger fans and several in the media have been acting. Last year all I kept reading was how so many couldn’t wait until this year when Vitali Kravtsov was signed and brought over from Russia. But eight days ago, the Rangers with the second pick in the NHL Entry Draft selected Kaapo Kakko and now hardly anyone thinks about Kravtsov.
Now nothing against Kakko but predicting that he will score anywhere between 30 and 38 goals is just unrealistic to ask of any 18-year-old. The kid hasn’t even attended Traverse City (odds are the Rangers won’t even risk him there) and he is being given the Calder Trophy.
If you are going to be unrealistic then the player you should be talking about is Kravtsov who if you have been paying attention has been doing all the right things you want from a rookie. Let’s start with coming over in May to start his training for next season.
Not only has Kravtsov been training but he even hired his own coach to help him train properly. Then there are those lessons to help improve his English, don’t discount that as being able to communicate with his teammates will go a very long way.
It is paying off too as surprise guess who was the best player among the Ranger prospects last week? If you said, Vitali Kravtsov then you would be right. How often do we hear stories about Russian prospects be shocked at the amount of work that is asked of NHL players?
Well here is a kid who has hit the ground at 100 MPH and is working his backside off getting ready for his first NHL training camp? Kravtsov that is who and that will pay major dividends for both player and team come next season.
And even with all that work, I won’t suggest that Kravtsov will score more than 20 goals and 40 points as a rookie. If he does better than that then, by all means, jump up and down with joy. Give him the Calder Trophy and a parade down the Avenue Of Champions.
Now, none of this is a knock on Kakko who is a talented prospect but he still is just beginning to learn about what he will need to do in order to play in the NHL. At 18 I will be giddy if he makes the team out of training camp and has a 15 goal season. I won’t be disappointed if the Rangers decide he needs time at Hartford as Kakko is too special a talent to rush his development with.
I want Kakko to develop at his own speed not the speed of the fans or media. I also want people to remember their history and how fickle Ranger fans can be. Today’s favorite is tomorrow’s forgotten player (or bum ask Lias Andersson).
Let’s not forget that these are teenagers, not seasoned veterans and that one of the hardest places for a rookie to make it is New York City. If you want to know why just look at social media and the media itself.
Just hand Kravtsov the Calder Trophy, the All-Star MVP, the Conn Smythe, and the Hart Trophy and be done with it.